‘Days they dictate to us are over’: Poland vows to build Baltic Sea canal to bypass Russia
The president of Poland’s ruling party has said the country will push ahead with plans to cut a canal through a split of land near the Russian border saying "it is time show the Russians the days they dictated to us are over".
Poland wants to dig the canal through a narrow strip of land that blocks the Vistula Lagoon on the north-east coast from the Baltic Sea. At present Polish ships leaving the lagoon from the port of Elblag have to pass through Russian waters to get to the open sea.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice, the governing party, and a man regarded as the most powerful figure in Polish politics, said the necessity to sever the last vestiges of Russian influence over Poland means the canal has to be built.
“It is important for Poland’s status,” he said in a radio interview. “In the end Poland needs to shed the last traces of being a dependent state. We need to show that that times Russia dictated what we could or not do on our territory are over.”
Earlier this month Russia complained to the European Commission about the canal. In a letter to the Commission’s environment and maritime affairs commissionaire, Moscow complained that it had not been consulted over the canal and that the construction of the waterway threatened the ecology of the lagoon.
Polish canal – Vistula Lagoon
When questioned about Russia’s letter, Mr Kaczynski said that “they have always been opposed to it”. The Polish government has also dismissed Moscow complaints as an “attempt to block this strategic investment for Poland”.
Construction on the canal, which will be 1,100 yards long and 16 feet deep, is due to start later this year and should be completed by 2022.